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Rapid Reaction: Ohio State rolls past Northwestern, 74-61

The Wildcats looked like a wholly different team than the one that played in Iowa City on Thursday.

EVANSTON, IL. — Yikes.

Northwestern (10-4, 2-1 B1G) fell from the heights it experienced after its Thursday upset at No. 22 Iowa, getting blown out by Ohio State (11-3) at home on Sunday.

Veronica Burton, who led the ‘Cats in points with 16, rebounds with eight, assists with five and steals with six, failed to get the help she needed, resulting in a sound defeat for her team. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes had four players reach double-digit scoring, including Jacy Sheldon, who led all players with 20 points.

The Buckeyes established themselves early on, pulling ahead with a 7-0 lead on 3-for-5 shooting while the Wildcats missed their first five shots from the field. Two Burton free throws opened up NU’s scoring day just over three minutes into play, and after OSU knocked down two of its own from the line, Caileigh Walsh hit NU’s first shot from the floor, a layup that cut the visitors’ lead to 9-4. Jillian Brown followed Walsh’s shot up with a make at the rim to make it 9-6.

After a media timeout halfway through the first quarter, Melannie Daley got on the board for the first time in the game on a fast break. The teams would go scoreless for the following minute and a half, trading misses until Burton added a layup — also on the fast break — to put NU up, 10-9. After OSU’s Tanaya Beacham and Walsh traded layups, the Buckeyes went on another 7-0 run to close the quarter with an 18-12 lead.

The Wildcats started the second quarter off on the right note, with Daley knocking down a jumper on their first possession of the period. Things would soon sour, though, as NU fell into an over three minute-long scoring drought following the first-year’s mid-rang bucket. Ohio State failed to capitalize in a way that doomed the ‘Cats, scoring only four points via a Mikulasikova layup and pair of free throws. NU broke the drought at the 6:22 mark, as Jillian Brown threaded the needle inside to Courtney Shaw, who scored easily in the post to pull the ‘Cats within three.

After Ohio State’s next possession ended without points, Veronica Burton drew another foul while driving down the lane and hit both free throws, making it a one point game. But another drought — this time nearly two-and-a-half minutes in length, soon commenced for the Wildcats. The Buckeyes once again didn’t do much with it, scoring only two points while the ‘Cats’ offense was dormant. The teams largely traded buckets for the remainder of the half, with two OSU threes sandwiched between a pair of Burton buckets from beyond the arc in the last 2:21 of the game’s first 20 minutes. With a second to play before the break, Sheldon drew a shooting foul on Daley. With two makes from the charity stripe, she sent her team to the locker room with a 33-26 lead.

Northwestern’s offensive struggles continued into the early parts of the second half. Through two-and-a-half minutes of third quarter play, the ‘Cats had attempted only one shot from the field — a Jillian Brown miss from three point range — on account of two turnovers. The Buckeyes, on the contrary, picked up on their scoring a bit out of the break, putting up nine quick points through a mixture of fast break layups, mid-range jumpers and free throws. Their enhanced offensive efficacy left them with a 42-28 lead just over halfway through the period.

The onslaught only got worse from there, as the Wildcats continued to struggle to both get opportunities from the field due to turnovers and make their shots when they were able to get them up. NU finished the quarter 3-for-11 from the floor and 5-for-9 from the line, while OSU’s 23 third quarter points left the Buckeyes with a 56-37 lead heading into the final frame.

The Wildcats never created the illusion of a comeback in the fourth quarter. The smallest lead OSU held in the last ten minutes was also its last, when Kaylah Rainey made a layup to draw NU within 13 points of their guests. From there, the Buckeyes salted away the clock, closing out a dominant victory.

Northwestern next takes the court on Thursday, when they head to Champaign to take on rival Illinois.